The FBHVC monthly report

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The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs represents our interests nationally, fighting for those who enjoy using their Classic Cars.

Robin Astle, our Club's FBHVC representative gives a monthly report on what's going on.

Robin Astle

February 2020

by Robin Astle.

From FBHVC Newsletter 2019 No. 6

Legislation & Fuels by Dave Daniel

Clean Air Zones & Low Emission Zones

We continue to see initiatives to propose charging or banning zones in city centres. The latest is Bath, and we have just submitted a response to their consultation.

In Scotland, where there is a proposal to establish several bans, including one covering the whole of Edinburgh and its suburbs, efforts have been aimed at getting a general exemption for Historic Vehicles into the primary legislation, so that it applies regardless in any zone established. This has not been successful, and like other interest groups, it seems that each and every zone will need to be considered individually. Bob Owen, continues to take particular interest in this area.

In England, the various zones have made mixed progress. The two most advanced – Birmingham and Leeds – have both been deferred over software development and changes in the proposed funding of the charging system. Progress is not likely until the end of 2020. Other councils have made proposals, including Greater Manchester, but these will it seems have the shared software development issues.

At this stage, we will continue to respond to proposals as they emerge.


There have been no changes in Roadworthiness testing arrangements, nor any apparent issues arising. When the testing exemptions for historic vehicles were originally published, last-minute Government change meant that some historic lorries were not exempted, and this remains the case. Efforts by the Historic Commercial Vehicle Society (HCVS) to get this changed have been unsuccessful. This has caused further difficulties in that for example, where the exemptions for the ‘10 year tyre ban’ were based on Roadworthiness Testing regulations rather than exemptions from Vehicle Excise Duty, so potentially capturing some historic vehicles in the tyre ban proposal.

Car Cruising

We have found that the Black Country ‘Car Cruising’ order has been extended for a further period. This covers a large part of the West Midlands. Although originally, we had fears that historic vehicles and club rallies might be caught in the wording of the Order, we were assured that this would not happen, and the law would be enforced sensibly. To date, no problems have been experienced and it seems unlikely this will change.


There have been efforts to introduce E10 petrol to the forecourt. At this stage, we understand that the only UK refinery for the alcohol additive has closed and the environmental costs of shipping alcohol additives from other parts of the world negates any environmental benefit and fuels on the forecourt remain unchanged.

No doubt this will emerge again as a potential issue for historic vehicle owners so we will keep this under review.

DVLA by Ian Edmunds

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, I cannot report any progress on our outstanding problems with DVLA. The Federation is in close contact with the APPHVG but at the time of writing the situation in Westminster makes it very difficult to progress anything. We have a regular liaison meeting with DVLA scheduled but that is likely to be postponed due the election. We will persevere!

Recent events reported to me by members and, indeed, in one case by a Federation colleague, indicate that it may be beneficial to recap on some information that I have provided previously concerning registration, licensing and insurance.

Some years ago, Department for Transport introduced a system of continuous vehicle licensing and of continuous insurance. The entirely praiseworthy objective was to reduce the number of unlicensed and/or uninsured vehicles in use. I believe that it has been successful in doing so.

Inevitably the system was designed for the majority of road users with modern vehicles and, equally inevitably, there are some particular aspects for our minority of historic vehicles.

Before proceeding further, it might be worthwhile to be clear on the meaning of the terminology. The process of entering a vehicle on to the DVLA record and issuing a registration number is known as registration. Licensing is the process of obtaining the right to use the vehicle on the public road and paying the appropriate VED. For most of our vehicles the VED payable is nil but the process remains the same.

The basic principle of continuous licensing is that every registered vehicle must be either licensed (taxed) or on SORN. However, this is where the first of the historic vehicle quirks appears. Vehicles which were not licensed when the SORN procedure was introduced in 1998 and have not been licensed since are not part of this system and are not subject to the continuous licensing regime. This group are often referred to as pre-SORN. Once such a vehicle is licensed it immediately becomes subject to the continuous licensing requirements.

Following from these licensing arrangements was a further requirement that every licensed vehicle must be insured, whether or not it was actually in use. This is policed by a process known as Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE). Regular and frequent comparisons are made between the DVLA database of licenced vehicles and the MID (Motor Insurance Database) of vehicles which are insured. The registered keeper of any vehicle shown to be licensed but not insured will receive a standard Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL) which warns that the vehicle is not insured and offers a number of options. If no action is taken the registered keeper will receive a fixed penalty notice.

The provisions described above are long-standing and I believe well understood by most vehicle owners but there is a more recent development which unfortunately does appear to be catching people out.

DVLA now state that the act of registering a vehicle is inseparably linked to licensing it. I do not believe that has always been the case but I cannot persuade DVLA to confirm that or to tell me when it changed or why. Nevertheless, it is now the case. This link is not made clear in the published guidance, either on or on the forms involved.

Thus, a first registration of a vehicle will automatically cause it to be licensed. Additionally, and crucially for us, a change of tax class (typically to ‘historic’) is treated as a re-registration and will also cause the vehicle to be licensed. As most historic vehicles do not require an MoT and insurance is no longer checked at the time of licensing there are instances where a vehicle has been licensed without the keeper being aware. The vehicle in question then becomes subject to the continuous insurance requirements and the keeper will receive an IAL.

It is worth repeating, if a suitable response is not provided to the IAL the keeper will receive a fixed penalty notice.



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